Donald Trump presented no solutions during his first oval office address to the nation to end a more than two-week long government shutdown that has left 800,000 government workers working without pay. Instead, Trump channeled his virulently bigoted policy advisor Stephen Miller and spent most of his speech spouting xenophobic lies about immigrants and wrongfully demonizing them as violent criminals.
Here are some things I caught that were misleading and easily proven wrong:
Early on Trump ranted about how drugs entering the U.S. are part of the problem at the border and used that as a justification for building of the wall. While 90 percent of the heroin smuggled into the United States does enter through the southern border, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has stated that most of it comes in through “concealed compartments within passenger vehicles or commingled with legitimate goods on tractor trailers.” That means most drugs coming into the U.S are hidden in legal shipments which would render his wall an ineffective way of stopping illicit drug shipments into the country.
Trump also talked about the great numbers of apprehensions of criminal immigrants at the border, yet unauthorized border crossings are at record lows numbers and statistics show that most people crossing have no criminal history. In 2000, 1.6 million people were apprehended trying to cross the southern border into the United States. In 2001, 1.3 million were apprehended. Last year less than 400,000 were apprehended. Government data shows that crossings along the border with Mexico are dramatically lower than they were years ago.
He hypocritically and cynically used migrant children who are coming here seeking asylum across the border while fleeing from extreme violence and conditions in their home countries as political props in what seemed to be as pretend empathy, while his policies deny them rights. Instead, Trump’s administration places these children in detention camps, many of which are for-profit enterprises making a buck from the incarceration of these children.
Two children have died under the oversight of border patrol recently, Felipe Gomez Alonzo and Jakelin Caal Maquin. Trump has no standing to claim any sort of care or sympathy while his policies create the horrible conditions these innocent children are forced to endure.
He went on to talk about immigrant women who suffer from violence while migrating, even though his administration created a hostile environment that prevents them from getting help. His administration overruled an existing policy which allowed women and gang victims to make asylum claims based on violence against them when police and the legal system of their home country disregard the threats to them.
Trump has once again, and to no surprise, used his platform to lie and attack immigrant families across the nation. He continues his temper tantrum over funding for his ineffective and expensive border wall.
The wall would not work, and it would be a massive drain of resources, all so the Trump administration can score cheap political points with his base. We need real solutions to the complicated immigration issues this country is facing, and that starts with opening the government so that federal employees can finally get paid again and opening debate on legislation for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship
The crisis at the border has been manufactured by Trump for one reason only, to distract from the real crisis of legitimacy, incompetence and corruption within his administration.
Thomas Kennedy is the Political Director for FLIC Votes and a communications fellow for Community Change. He tweets from @Tomaskenn.